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What is CBD?
You might have been hearing a lot about it lately. That’s because the CBD industry, and the (holistic) wellness industry as a whole, is experiencing a boom. Since its 2018 legalization, there’s been a bunch of talk about the plant-based compound, what it does, how to use it, and the results that have left some people calling it a “modern miracle”.
I’m pretty familiar with psychoactive cannabis (yes, the devil’s lettuce), but CBD? Not so much. Since moving back to California, I’ve spent the year learning more about CBD as I delve into the industry as a cannabis writer. I frequently get questions on all things CBD, why I use it, and how it can possibly help them, so I figured it was time to create an all-encompassing guide to help as many people as I can.
This post was sponsored by SavageCBD; all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
I’m happy to be partnered with SavageCBD for this blog post! SavageCBD puts transparency first and uses premium cannabis to ensure a high-quality product for the best results. I’ve had a great experience using a number of their products and highly recommend them if you’re a beginner to CBD like I was!
So, what is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound found in cannabis. CBD is extracted from the plant and turned into oils, tinctures, topicals, edibles, and more, and can be used in a number of ways.
Whenever I’m writing about or discussing cannabis, I like to take an opportunity to break some myths and misconceptions, simply because there are way too many. It’s a constantly evolving topic that requires up-to-date information and education, especially if we’re to be on a path towards federal legalization.
CBD is frequently referred to as a non-psychoactive drug and this is not true. Both CBD and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound commonly found in marijuana, are considered psychoactive compounds. The difference is that CBD is non-intoxicating and THC is intoxicating. It’s why THC produces side effects like euphoria, cravings, and even hallucinations and CBD doesn’t. CBD can actually do the opposite and block THC from binding to receptors when in the presence of THC.
Cannabis plants with 0.3% THC or less are referred to as hemp plants and are legal federally thanks to the 2018 passage of the Farm Bill. Plants with more than 0.3% THC are considered marijuana and illegal federally even though there’s no difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD.
Hemp-derived CBD is legal in 47 out of 50 states; Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota have state laws prohibiting any type of cannabis, even though it’s legal on a federal level.
Types of CBD
Before you buy any CBD, it’s important to know the different types of CBD, how they’re produced, and what each of them contains, especially if getting drug tested is a concern. There are four different types of CBD available: whole plant CBD, full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate.
Whole plant extract
Whole-plant extract is created using the whole cannabis plant. The difference between this extract and the others is that whole-plant extract still contains fats, waxes, and other materials that are said to hold the cannabinoids together. Some say that because this is the least-refined out of all extract, it’s also the most beneficial.
Full-spectrum CBD is CBD that is extracted from the whole CBD plant and contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids that naturally occur in cannabis. It doesn’t contain the fats and waxes that are found in whole-plant extracts, lending for a more refined whole-plant experience.
Broad-spectrum CBD is a full-spectrum CBD that undergoes further processing to remove all traces of THC. It still has CBD and all the other cannabinoids found in cannabis but is considered a distillate. Because this option is THC-free, it’s a good option for those who are frequently drug tested at work.
Isolated CBD is CBD that’s extracted from the rest of the compounds found in the cannabis plant. It goes through a rigorous extraction and winterization process that results in a crystalline, powder substance that tests as pure as 99% CBD. This is a great choice for people who want CBD without any possible interferences or sensitivities to other compounds.
CBD, cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system
The reason why CBD is making waves in health and wellness is because of the way it interacts with the human body and is able to induce homeostasis or optimal balance and function of our entire being. There are over 500 chemicals in the cannabis plant with 104 of them, including CBD, being unique to cannabis alone. These chemicals are called cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are found in the cannabis plant with CBD and THC being the ones we’re most familiar with. Other cannabinoids like CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol), CBC (cannabichromene), and more are growing in use and popularity as researchers are able to isolate more compounds and learn about their respective benefits.
What many people don’t know is that all of us are equipped with an endocannabinoid system; it’s part of the human body. In the simplest words, the endocannabinoid system, or the ECS, is the ultimate regulator.
The ECS consists of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes and essentially keeps everything in check. It regulates functions including:
- Immune function
- Reproduction + Fertility
- Temperature regulation
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by binding onto receptors and regulating enzymes found within the system, promoting homeostasis within the human body.
Full-spectrum CBD and the entourage effect
The entourage effect is the phenomenon that occurs when all the naturally occurring chemicals of the cannabis plant act synergistically, or with one another to provide the best therapeutic results and health benefits. This means that CBD, CBC, CBG, CBN, THC, and dozens of others are working with each other to provide the optimal effect.
This obviously cannot be achieved with CBD isolate as there’s no other cannabinoid to interact with. While you can achieve an entourage effect with broad-spectrum CBD, it’s not the same as full-spectrum CBD, whole-plant extracts, and CBD/THC combinations like 1:1, 1:3, and more that you may find in legal states.
My preference is full-spectrum CBD. I prefer CBD that’s not so processed and lends for as many benefits as possible, and you can’t find that in THC-free options in my opinion. I’m yet to try a whole-plant extract though I’ll definitely have to and see how it compares to full-spectrum CBD.
Ways CBD is used for health
It’s important to note that even though incorporating CBD into your routine or lifestyle can have benefits, it is not a “miracle drug” nor a “cure-all” and should not be thought of as such. Besides the fact that the industry isn’t regulated and claims aren’t backed by the FDA, everyone is different. What works for one person may or may not work for the next; it all depends.
With that being said, CBD has been widely studied by medical researchers. The results? The research backs a lot of the claims that are being made, particularly when it comes to managing mental health, treating chronic pain, and promoting good health and wellbeing. CBD is currently being studied for treatment in COVID-19 cases with promising initial results.
Here are some of the issues CBD can help with:
- Chronic pain/Pain management
- Menstrual cramps
- Muscle tension or soreness
I personally like to use CBD at night because it helps me relax and get my body ready for sleep. About an hour before bed, I like to take a warm shower and follow up with this citrus lavender CBD lotion. It has lavender essential oil, which is known to promote sleep by alleviating things like anxiety and insomnia, similar to CBD. Afterward, I feel super relaxed and am able to fall asleep within 30 minutes most nights.
I’ve also been using this CBD balm whenever my knees hurt after running; that’s been happening a lot more now that I live in a cooler climate. The pain was decreasing within 30-60 minutes and by the next morning, I forgot I even had it. I also like to take CBD and other cannabis products when I’m having menstrual cramps or simply not feeling my best. It’s been helpful for these uses as well.
How to take CBD
One of the many awesome things about CBD is that there is a multitude of ways to take CBD that can easily work for your lifestyle. The main ways of taking CBD include ingestion, sublingual, topical, and inhalation.
You can ingest CBD or add it to your favorite foods and drinks to get your dosage. I like to add CBD to smoothies particularly and know of coffee and tea drinkers adding it to their morning beverages and having great results too. There are CBD gel caps, gummies, and so much more if you’re thinking ingestion is the method for you.
A sublingual dosage is one of the easiest ways to take CBD. Simply add an amount of CBD oil under your tongue and hold it for 30 to 60 seconds, and then swallow. Because the CBD is easily absorbed into the bloodstream with this method, you can feel results within minutes.
For centralized pain relief, using topical CBD products on the source is the way to go. I used a CBD balm to convince my mom to jump on the cannabis train and was met with instant success. It helps her manage chronic pain in her knees and has given her mobility again, which is huge. CBD balms, lotions, and creams work well for this, though CBD oil used topically does the trick too.
Last but not least is inhalation. CBD can be smoked as a flower and vaped as oil just like marijuana. Some people swear by this method as the most effective because of its ability to provide both quick relief like other methods, as well as long-lasting relief and better absorption.
Ways to add CBD to your everyday life
Here are some easy ways you can add CBD to your daily routine and start reaping some benefits ASAP:
- Add a few drops of CBD oil to smoothies, salads, sauces, and pizza before consuming.
- Take CBD gel caps along with your daily vitamins and supplements.
- Rub CBD balm on tired joints and sore muscles to boost post-workout recovery.
- (Carefully) snack on CBD treats as needed throughout the day.
- Use this luxurious lavender citrus CBD lotion to round out a relaxing evening routine after a long day.
- Inhale CBD before bed to help you relax and stay asleep without the morning drowsy feeling like other sleep aids can cause.
There’s nothing I love more than holistic, plant goodness and that’s what SavageCBD’s full-spectrum CBD offers. As much as we strive for work-life balance and some semblance of normalcy particularly during these chaotic times, it simply isn’t possible every single day.
My favorite product so far has been the lavender citrus lotion and I’ve found it to be best used at night or after a long day. It has citrus and lavender essential oils, though it’s mostly the lavender I detected. It’s thick, creamy, and moisturizing and rubs onto the skin easily and leaves you feeling soft. I’m actually in the middle of a move and used some of the lotion, followed up with this balm, on my left knee, which was sore and achy after climbing stairs multiple times plus long-ish drives. The pain was gone in the morning and I felt nice and refreshed all over.
CBD also helps me manage issues like anxiety while keeping me sharp and focused at work. I’m definitely one of those who thinks cannabis, in conjunction with good eating habits and regular exercise, is helping me maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, I’m looking forward to learning more about it as time goes and finding new ways to help those around me.
Huge thanks to SavageCBD for being a part of this article!
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